TAMPA — USF's annual Fan Fest drew a strong turnout at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday. And though the Bulls estimated the crowd at 4,000, the news of the day was that junior RB Jamar Taylor has been sidelined with a potentially significant right knee injury.
"We don't know how severe it is. We're going to have to check on him Monday," said coach Jim Leavitt, who said the injury might involve the medial collateral ligament.
"Taylor is a tremendous asset to this football team, there's no question, so I don't want to think negative thoughts," Leavitt said. "We thought before the season he might be our starting running back."
Taylor was on crutches at Fan Fest after being carted off during the morning scrimmage. Asked by a young fan if he could be back for USF's opener against Wofford in three weeks, Taylor said "Hopefully."
Addressing the crowd at Raymond James Stadium, Leavitt discussed the high hopes the Bulls have in a wide-open Big East.
"We've gone to four bowl games in a row, which is great," Leavitt said. "We understand that the next step has to be a championship."
Lines for autographs stretched across the width of Raymond James Stadium, with 125 in line for DE George Selvie and QB Matt Grothe, two senior leaders.
Four hours earlier, Leavitt said the Bulls' first scrimmage reminded him of the progress his team needs to make over the next three weeks.
"There's nowhere that we're ready for a game yet," Leavitt said. "We've got a ways to go. If there's a year that we need the extra time, it's this year.
"You've got two new coordinators, a young offensive line. We lost (22) seniors. That just doesn't go unnoticed. It doesn't mean we can't be a better football team this year. We're not today."
Injuries: Four potential starters were held out: WRs Jessie Hester (foot) and A.J. Love (knee), and DTs Cory Grissom (ankle) and Terrell McClain (foot).
Free ride: Senior Kenneth Luberice, competing for a starting job at tight end and expected to be the team's "up back" on the punt team, was placed on scholarship at the start of preseason camp. Luberice is the second senior placed on scholarship for this fall, joining CB Cameron Perkins.
Moving back: After working out as the nickel defensive back, senior Jerome Murphy is back at cornerback, defensive coordinator Joe Tresey said. Sophomore Tyson Butler and redshirt freshman Jon Lejiste are competing for the starting nickel job.
Greg Auman can be reached at email@example.com.